A genetic marker for elevated levels of haemoglobin F in homozygous sickle cell disease?
Wainscoat JS., Thein SL., Higgs DR., Bell JI., Weatherall DJ., Al-Awamy BH., Serjeant GR.
Ten patients with sickle cell (SS) disease from a Jamaican family were found to have unusually high levels of haemoglobin F for this population. Each of them has inherited one sickle cell gene on a chromosome characterized by an arrangement of restriction fragment length polymorphisms (haplotype) which is very rare in the Jamaican population. Genetic analysis of the family suggests that there is a determinant linked to the beta-globin gene cluster, characterized by this haplotype, which is responsible for increased haemoglobin F production in response to anaemia. Interestingly this particular haplotype appears to be common in patients with SS disease in eastern Saudi Arabia in whom a high level of haemoglobin F is the rule rather than the exception. Hence it is possible that this haplotype (++-++) acts as a genetic marker for elevated levels of haemoglobin F in sickle cell disease.